Mayo 0-15 : : Kerry 1-6
James Horan had a feeling that Mayo would come good in McHale Park last Sunday. Long after the crowds had made their way home to warm themselves from the bitter wind and soft rain, that are as much part and parcel of the first few weeks of the league as new names in the team program, the Ballintubber clubman told the assembled press pack about that feeling. “I'd a strong feeling that we would play very well today, but you don't really know until you play, we had a good meeting yesterday and went through a few things, but that was talking about it. You have to go out and do it and we did today.” And Mayo did it very well indeed. They ran up 15 points on the scoreboard, dominated the play for long periods and didn't let James O'Donoghue's 17th minute goal knock them out of their stride. At the back Ger Cafferkey was immense in the full back line, the Ballina Stephenites man was awarded the official man of the match, a decision that no-one could argue with. He was ably supported at the back by Colm Boyle who put in a dynamo of a performance in the half back line alongside Chris Barrett. Aidan O'Shea was dynamic and powerful in the middle of the park and kept Mayo powering on throughout the afternoon. In the half forward line, Richie Feeney put down a real marker for permanent place in the side and Kevin McLoughlin was at his most effective when he was brought out onto this line from his starting spot in the full forward line. Jason Doherty finished off the day with six points to his name, only one of them was from play but when he was on the inside attacking line he caused Kerry all kinds of problems and looked much more at home that further out the field. Michael Conroy has brought his scoring boots with him from last year and kicked four good points over the 70 minutes, while Enda Varley's late cameo saw him hit two trademark points to round off the win. And Kerry didn't score in the second half, in fact Kerry's last score came when Conor Cox pointed on the half hour mark after the wind caught a kick out from David Clarke and dropped it into his hands out on the McHale Road side of the ground.
The contest burst into life inside the opening minute when Mayo hit the front, Richie Feeney played the ball into Jason Doherty who in turn laid it off to debutant Cathal Freeman. The Aghamore man played the one-two with Doherty and the DIT student slotted the ball over the bar to give Mayo an early lead. The visitors leveled the game up two minutes later when Michael O'Donoghue landed a good score from out on the left hand side after a good run by Johnny Buckley from the middle of the park.
Doherty put Mayo back in front from a close range free after six minutes and he stretched that lead out to two points, a couple of minutes later from another dead ball. The Burrishoole man made it three out of three from placed balls and added his fourth point of game on 12 minutes, when his free off the deck, just about made it over the bar with the aid of Anthony Maher's fingertips as he tried to pull it down from over the bar.
With a quarter-of-an-hour gone, Kerry conjured a great goal chance. Darran O'Sullivan who gave Tom Cunniffe a major headache all afternoon, picked up the ball along the end line with a deft flick. The Glencar man passed it back to Michael Geaney who found James O'Donoghue breaking in on goal. His first effort was brilliantly saved by David Clarke, the ball spun up in the air back into the Kerry attackers hands, but his second goal effort was blocked by Aidan O'Shea out for a 45. Johnny Buckley cut the gap to two points from the resulting 45, and one minute later Kerry got their goal. A long ball was pumped into Darran O'Sullivan who flicked the ball down into the path of O'Donoghue who sold a dummy to take both Keith Higgins and Tom Cunniffe out of the play before he arrowed the ball low past David Clarke to the bottom corner of the net.
Richie Feeney hit back for Mayo with a point, the Castlebar man played a long ball into Jason Doherty who held onto the ball for a second to allow Feeney to continue his run to pick up the return pass and slot it over the bar. Michael O'Donoghue put the Kingdom back into the lead on 19 minutes when he scored a point following a run from deep to get on the end of a pass from James O'Donoghue. Darran O'Sullivan put Kerry into a two point lead when he landed a great point after 22 minutes.
Mayo struck back with ten minutes left in the half when Michael Conroy kicked his first point of the game. Tom Cunniffe picked up a broken ball near the end-line and started off a hand passing move that went through at least seven pairs of Mayo hands as the ball was moved up along the stand side of the field to the Davitts man who finished it off in style. A minute later the same man picked up the ball from his club-mate Colm Boyle and beat two Kerry defenders before bisecting the posts with his effort. Anthony Maher and Conor Cox responded with a point each in the 29th and 30th minute. The home side rounded off the scoring though points from a Doherty free after Aidan O'Shea was fouled and a Kevin McLoughlin point to send the sides in level at the break.
The second half saw Mayo exert their control over the tie as they played with the aid of a very strong breeze in the second half. Kevin McLoughlin kicked Mayo's first point from a free after half-time replacement Alan Freeman was fouled out near the sideline. Doherty kicked his sixth point of the contest nine minutes into the half as Mayo began to stretch their lead. With 49 minutes gone in the game, a shoving match out on the McHale Road side of the ground involving a number of players saw both Aidan O'Shea and Anthony Maher both get a yellow card, it was the Duagh man's second yellow and Kerry were reduced to 14 for the rest of contest. With ten minutes left in the game, Michael Conroy hit his second purple patch of the game when he landed two points two minutes from out on the right hand side. The final punctuation mark on the game was left to Garrymore's Enda Varley who came off the bench to snatch two late points to seal the 0-15 to 1-6 win.
J Doherty (0-6,5f ), M Conroy (0-4 ), K McLoughlin (0-2,1f ), E Varley (0-2 ), R Feeney (0-1 )
Kerry: J O'Donoghue (1-0 ), M O'Donoghue (0-2 ), Johnny Buckley (0-1 ), Darran O'Sullivan (0-1 ), Anthony Maher (0-1 ), Conor Cox (0-1 )
Mayo: D Clarke; G Cafferkey, S McHale, K Higgins; C Barrett, T Cunniffe, C Boyle; A O'Shea, S O'Shea; L Keegan, R Feeney, C Freeman; K McLoughlin, J Doherty, M Conroy.
Subs: A Freeman for C Freeman (HT ), B Moran for S O'Shea (60 mins ), J Gibbons for A O'Shea (62 mins, blood sub ), A O'Shea for J Gibbons (64 mins, blood sub ), Enda Varley for Richie Feeney (64 mins )
Kerry: B Kealy; M O'Sé, A O'Mahony, S Enright; J Lyne, P Crowley, K Young; A Maher, J Buckley; M Geaney, D O'Sullivan, M O'Donoghue; J O'Donoghue, P Curtin, C Cox.
Subs: BJ Keane for C Cox (42 mins ), B Sheehan for M Geaney (42 mins ), A Garnett for P Curtin (60 mins ), S O'Carroll for M O'Donoghue (62 mins )
Ref: P Hughes (Armagh )